Is Your Press Release Web-Ready?

With all the buzz about the new media, one very “old school” communications tool—the press release—remains a fundamental tool for attracting media attention and getting them to write about you. However, now in addition to writing in a traditional press release format you need to think about producing a version that meets the needs of the “social media” age. Enter the “social media press release.”

Introduced a few years ago by a few tech-savvy communicators who wanted a version of a press release appropriate for easy, effective online use, the “social media press release” was born. It is still very much an emerging tool but one marketers should start paying attention to if they hope to increase their coverage in the increasingly important online media.

The digital as well as the traditional media still want great content, relevance, something new and newsworthy, an explanation of why it matters, how it is different and to whom. As Brian Solis, principal of Future Works, an award winning pr firm in Silicon Valley says,  “You still have to do your homework and write something compelling and clear.”

Among the first communications firms to offer a social media template (free for downloading) is Shift Communications. Take a look at the way Shift has organized the elements of a traditional news release to leverage the social media world. Key to this approach is making sure your release not only has a compelling story to tell but also includes key words for search optimization, video clips, photos, links, Technorati and “Digg This” tags and RSS feeds—all in an effort to get your release found and “remixed” by more online journalists than the straightforward release does.

So, why a social media release you may ask? Its value like all social media tools is to expand the opportunity for user discovery, encourage sharing among more participants and increase your broadcast result. Sound daunting? Too technically challenging? Forget the excuses. Find a young, smart techlit (technically literate) staffer on your team and start to learn before your organization faces the same troubles the newspaper industry is struggling with today.

Gail Hyman is a marketing and communications professional, with deep experience in both the public and private sectors. She currently focuses her practice, Gail Hyman Consulting, on assisting Jewish nonprofit organizations increase their ranks of supporters and better leverage their communications in the Web 2.0 environment. Gail is a regular contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.